Words have value.
Oh, you can’t buy a package of gum with a word, but, if you put the right words in the right order, you can sometimes talk people into giving you a big basket of money. The right words, said with the right punch on the right syllable, can get you elected.
I’m a writer. I sell my words like some guy selling organic carrots at a farmers market, except my words didn’t grow in a field next to a gently flowing river, across the road from a field of pretty black and white cows.
I sell city words, blunt words, words that grow like weeds in the cracks of a sidewalk.
I pay attention to words, weigh them, and watch their meanings move.
Let’s take the word “kid.” That word is often applied to currently indicted Fall River Mayor Jasiel F. Correia, who insists he is innocent of fraud, theft, tax-dodging, strip club frequenting, and a host of other things, some illegal, some just bad for his image. The image stuff he can outgrow, but the criminal stuff leads directly to one of those government facilities where they think a baloney sandwich is something you should eat for breakfast.
But “kid?” The guy’s 26.
Regarding Correia as someone who is too young to know right from wrong is particularly odd in Fall River, where people have been growing up fast for generations.
Fall River is full of guys who were in Vietnam when they were 18. By the time they were 26, they’d come home, gotten a job, married and had a couple of children. Fall River is full of strong elderly women who were working in a sewing shop when they were 16, earning a pay that was needed at home, not for a “lavish lifestyle,” but for the gas bill.
Look over there, see the guy standing near the pile of dirt? No, not THAT pile of dirt, the other pile of dirt. That guy. He’s 22, and he’s a laborer on a construction site. The older men call him “kid.” but they don’t let him off easy on the work because he’s young. That “kid” has already started the long process of ruining his back and wearing away the cartilage in his knees.
You don’t really know what the word “kid” means until you’re 21, and some boss yells at you, “Hey kid, c’mere!” which means you’re about to lift something too heavy for the boss to lift. You’ll lift it, too, because you just bought a four year-old pickup truck, and no one makes the payments or puts gas in it but you.
Right now, 26 year-old kids are going on patrol half a world away, wearing dusty fatigues and barked at by a sergeant who isn’t 40 yet. Kids? They may be missing an arm or a leg before they turn 30.
Yeah. Jasiel Correia’s teenage years seem to be lasting an awfully long time, well past what he could have expected if he joined the Army when he was 18, or took a truck driving job his first month out of high school. Frankly, either one of those things might have been better for him than being mayor at 23.
Hell, Correia’s FATHER organizes demonstrations outside Government Center in support of his “boy.”. By the age of 26, your father isn’t supposed to be going to the principal’s office to get you out of trouble. I bet Jasiel’s dad wishes he’d sent him to Diman instead of college. The “kid” would be a plumber right now, and the worst thing he could do would be to overcharge you when he fixed your toilet. Even if he did, you gotta overcharge on a lot of toilet jobs to get away with $230,000.
Best of all if “kid” Correia had gone to work as a plumber, he’d have a nice house in Dartmouth by now, and his perpetual adolescence wouldn’t be Fall River’s problem.